09.30.2010 0

Forget Obesity, Fight Liberalism

  • On: 10/25/2010 09:24:21
  • In: Uncategorized
  • By David Bozeman

    With the year winding down, many Americans are now receiving their health insurance renewal packets for 2011 and are reporting, with eye-rolling disgust, higher premiums. Employees and retirees on Medicare and Medicare-supplement plans are seeing, as well, in this age of ObamaCare, greater emphasis on lifestyle and behavioral issues such as obesity, with some information going so far as to define it as a disease.

    Nanny-staters frequently gripe that the food choices of the obese and unhealthy drive up the cost of insurance for everyone. New York, of course, has all but banned trans-fats, the Institute of Medicine recommended earlier this year that the FDA limit salt content (a proposal, apparently, still under consideration), and, of course, McDonald’s is facing increased fire from consumer advocacy groups for its Happy Meals targeted at children. Back in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is suggesting that food stamps not be payable for Coca-Cola and other sugary, fattening sodas.

    The latter example may not define Nanny-statism but it reflects a prevailing mindset, and the din of voices calling for individual responsibility in food choices is growing louder (if only the Left invoked individual responsibility in, say, sentencing guidelines and school choice). Yes, the war on obesity targets not just the makers of Twinkies, but the non-exercising, mass-consuming sofa-citizens, as well. Lest they miss anyone, Michelle Obama is taking it to the school children, and some, mostly elderly, Americans know their BMI (body mass index) numbers as well as their Social Security numbers.

    So what is wrong with encouraging individual responsibility? Nothing, but the problem with government “persuasion” is what price are we willing to pay in freedom? Nothing written here is meant to encourage or condone obesity, only to submit that a market-oriented system based on competition and choice best promotes a culture of individual responsibility, with the warning that those who make dangerous choices will ultimately bear the consequences, thus lowering the price of health care.

    Yes, premiums will likely always reflect the costs of someone’s ill behavior, but only an enormous toll in human contentment and liberty will ensure uniform diet, exercise and lifestyle regimens.

    To which an extreme advocate of the Nanny-state would reply, “So, what?” Who cares if a few over-consuming obese divan-denizens are shamed and ostracized into sacrificing their Cokes and Twinkies for the sake of numbing down America’s vibrant lifestyle to that of a somber, socialistic, shadow-of-its-former self, European sissy-state?

    The goal of ObamaCare, and the future legislation upon which the current act is mere prelude, is equality of outcome and homogenization of behavior. They cannot rightly criticize capitalism for its inefficiency, so they condemn its so called excesses.

    The prevailing wisdom is that we consume too much. They are always grousing that America consumes more than its share of the world’s resources. Our greed is bad for the environment, thus the need for cap and trade legislation.

    It is not the notion of America the bountiful that animates liberals, but disgust with Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Little Debbie and others who add fun, flavor and color to our lives. The risk of an inch or two to our waistlines is not worth ceding our liberty to killjoy bureaucrats at any level of government. If we are serious about cutting fat, forget middle America, why don’t we just start in Washington?

    David Bozeman, former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer for Americans for Limited Government.

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